Is Silence Really Golden?

I am trying to read more. It seems like the adult thing to do, but I quickly become restless when I pick up whatever title I’ve chosen at the moment. This feeling isn’t anything new. In fact, I’ve felt it most of my life when I’ve sat down to read. So, I called my mom several months ago to ask why I had trouble settling down to read books as a kid. Reason being is that I remember her reeaaaalllly wanting to read to me around 4-6 years old, so I guess I thought she would have some insight as to if I was ever a bookworm of sorts. Her answer? Nope. Never. I was always on the move.

For a few moments I would settle down and listen, but my attention was quickly drawn to preferring my matchbox cars or going outside to plunder through the shed out back. These days? Well, I actually do like to read (and truly enjoy it), but I’m realizing that around 4-6 years old, it wasn’t the reading I didn’t enjoy – it was actually the atmosphere of silence that usually came with it. The same remains true today. Silence – I’m not always a fan – but I’m becoming a fan. 

So about a year ago, I set out to stretch myself. When I have the opportunity to sit in silence, I do. No TV (don’t even own one…more about that another day #minimalism), No Spotify, No noise of any kind that I can control. But, alas, as with most things that are actually a good idea, it’s hard to implement. Today, when I have silence at my fingertips, I force myself to literally sit in it. If I’m uncomfortable, I remain in the utter silence until I am comfortable… Allowing my mind to wander, if need be, but always returning to that mental “center.” 

What have I noticed? Here are four ways my life has changed for the better: 

My Perspective Has Broadened

Embracing Silence allows me to see many situations from a different perspective. A strong empathetic point-of-view breaks through and, moreover, this places me in the position where I am able to discern whether a problem is actually MY problem (I struggle with this BIG TIME). If it is a problem I have created or for which I am responsible, I must hit the problem head on before taking another step. If the problem is really not on my side of the street, I drop the anxiety and keep moving.

Mental Detox

Each day, there are many distractions and influences (positive and negative) from everything including the people with whom I interact, the ever-buzzing news and social media, and work-related stresses.

Embracing silence allows a natural mental detoxification to take place. Meditation is a great way to practice silence, recenter, and rejuvenate your state of mind. I’m not talking about going all “Ghandi in the mountains.” Your mobile App Store has plenty of tools to assist with this. Try it!

Cultivate Relationships

Surprisingly, spending time in silence has been an asset in my relationships with those around me. By being comfortable with spending time alone, I am more present with friendships, family, and increasingly focused during interactions at the office.

Improved Awareness

Where? Everywhere. In everything. How can I make wise decisions if I don’t have true physical, emotional, and spiritual awareness? And furthermore, how can I have peace with my decisions if my mind is cloudy? Seeking awareness….specifically spiritual awareness in my case…has been a huge win. I must seek a higher level of awareness every day. 

My list is longer – and maybe we’ll circle back around another day. Today, though, in my 30s, moments spent in silence are not moments I chase or seek out, but valuable, life-enriching nuggets I consume when they present themselves. I guess silence is golden. 

-NW